Hours of unedited footage of Mahatma Gandhi found by Pune’s NFAI
These 35mm celluloid footages, unedited and stock shots with title cards in between, belonged to several prominent film studios of the time like Paramount, Pathe, Warner, Universal, British Movietone and Wadia Movietone, the NFAI said in its release.Updated: Sep 28, 2019 15:51 IST
The National Film Archive of India (NFAI) has discovered 30 reels of unedited footage on Mahatma Gandhi that amounts to almost six hours of duration and half-an-hour footage with visuals of a special train carrying Mahatma Gandhi’s ashes from Madras to Rameshwaram.
These 35mm celluloid footages, unedited and stock shots with title cards in between, belonged to several prominent film studios of the time like Paramount, Pathe, Warner, Universal, British Movietone and Wadia Movietone, the NFAI said in its release.
“It is indeed a very wonderful discovery for NFAI coming at a time when the entire world is celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. There seems to be some rare footages in this collection while many visuals are now part of short films and documentaries available. Some of these shots have been used but some visuals seem unique,” said Prakash Magdum, director NFAI.
He described the footages as “a fascinating visual collection of the Mahatma and a real surprise to find it in celluloid format in today’s times.”
The 35 mm footage is in ‘master positive format’ and does not have sound. “We have made duplicate negative for long-term preservation and then copied it into ‘release positive’, which is an exhibition format. The primary inspection indicates the material is in good condition and we will soon plan to digitise it ,” Magdum said.
The collection includes a rare half-an-hour footage that has visuals of a special train carrying Gandhi’s ashes from Madras to Rameshwaram. The stunning visuals shows thousands of people thronging to stations like Chettinad, Sivaganga, Chidambaram, Manamadurai junction, Ramnad, Pudukkottai junctions in Tamil Nadu, with folded hands and tears in eyes to have a glimpse of the urn carrying the ashes.
The collection also includes visuals of his last days including that of just after his death, close-ups of his body and blood-stained clothes, newspaper reports of the day, Birla House, people thronging to have a darshan and the procession to Raj Ghat.
A visual of Gandhi’s second son, Manilal, participation in the silver jubilee celebration of Dakshin Bharat Hindi Prachar Sabha at Madras along with C Rajagopalachari, Gandhi with Kasturba at Sevagram Ashram in Wardha and footage of Gandhi’s voyage to England on board the ship, S Rajaputana, to attend the Second Round Table Conference are part of the footage.
The footage includes candid shots of Gandhi spinning yarn on the deck, looking through binocular, shaving, smiling, playing with children and at one point taking control of the ship with the Captain beside him.
Gandhi’s visit to Ahmedabad, Porbandar and Rajkot including raw footage of his empty house, the school he attended and the library register showing his name; participation in the annual programme of Shri Shivaji College, Maharashtra, are part of the collection.
This collection also has some rare visuals of the revolutionary freedom fighter Veer Savarkar looking into the camera and Gandhi’s meeting with Rabindranath Tagore.
Two reels with audio of voice of Khan Abdul Gafar Khan, known as ‘Frontier Gandhi’ is believed to be from the documentary film on Gandhi by AK Chettiar that is unavailable till now, the NFAI release said.
Some visuals that seem to be from Kanu Gandhi collection, condolence meeting at UN Headquarters just after Gandhi’s death, are part of the collection.
Magdum said that the footage is in good collection and the NFAI plans to invite scholars and historians to throw more light and get information for cataloguing the entire collection.
First Published: Sep 27, 2019 16:15 IST